Jamie’s Italian


Photo © Jamie’s Italian

For my birthday last week, (on the hottest day of the year so far), we decided to go out to dinner to Jamie’s Italian in Guildford, rather than the ‘local’ curry house or chinese restaurant which are within walking distance of home, as I wanted to enjoy something different. I had heard mixed reviews of the restaurant, with some giving it high praise and others telling me it was below average. I still wanted to try it out regardless.

We booked in advance, which allowed us to have a side booth for the evening, meaning we were not as crowded as others in the very full (good sign) main eating area. The staff, who were welcoming and very attentive as soon as we arrived, got us seated with menus to browse, without the usual forcing us to order drinks as soon as our backsides were planted. We liked the ‘urban’ kitchen eatery décor of the place, as it seemed to match that of Jamie himself, from the good old early days on TV. I’m not sure I would like to have been sat in the middle of the crowded main area though, as people did seem to be sat on top of one another, while some were dodging pillars. Sat on the side, I was wondering for the sake of a few covers, if re-arranging would have made it more enjoyable for the others?

Anyway, after a short period, we noticed that many were there celebrating their birthdays too, as a procession of cakes, puddings and candles kept leaving the kitchen pass area, with ‘Happy Birthday’ ringing out in various tones and keys, across the restaurant (some sang better than others). This prompted my other half, to inform our waiter that it was my birthday too and ‘could my pudding possibly have a candle in it as well’, when it eventually came out. 🙂

We were not in the mood to drink ‘too’ much, especially with it still being 25C+ outside at 8pm and one thing we both really liked, that you don’t really see in many other restaurants, is being able to buy wine by the carafe (50cl rather than 75cl), which went down great, (along with all the water we were drinking to stay hydrated), especially as we ordered one carafe each, Montepulciano Red and Pinot Grigio Rosé.

We didn’t have to wait long for the food to arrive once we ordered it and for what we ordered, I personally do not think it was overpriced. In fact, for the starters we had, I was expecting it to be more expensive, having had ‘similar style’ first courses for more inflated prices elsewhere.

For our starters, we both chose the Antipasti Meat Plank which consisted of cured meats, Italian cheeses, pickles and a crunchy salad, which set the scene for the rest of the evening.

For our mains we had Black Angel Spaghetti (which probably had a bit too much chilli for our tastes) and Seaside Risotto which was delicious.

Finally, for our desserts we had Sicilian Cheesecake and Panna Cotta, with a candle stuck out the top of my Panna Cotta when it arrived, along with a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. I chose the Panna Cotta as I wanted to see if it was as good as the one in my last blog post. I also got my hands on a menu that was signed by all the Chefs and the front of house team working there, which was a great reminder of the evening.

To top the evening off, just before the bill arrived, we were presented with two shot glasses of Limoncello on the house, which would always go down very well!

To sum up it all up, I would say it was a really good experience, with very friendly, attentive staff and with very tasty food that you don’t really get elsewhere and the price wasn’t too bad either. I would go back again, to try something else from the menu, without a second thought, to see if it was as good! I’m glad I dismissed the negative reviews and shows that if you want to judge somewhere, you have to try it out for yourself.

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Orange Panna Cotta

Panna cotta (from Italian cooked cream) is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set. I’m not sure where the family got this recipe from but it has become a firm favourite with friends and family and, of course, it is gluten free.

We especially like it in the winter served with oranges soaked in Cointreau, and shortbread wafers or in the summer, the vanilla one, with raspberries or strawberries and home-made macaroon fingers. It is lowish in fat (if low-fat yoghurt is used), but have not tried it with half fat cream or crème fraiche, as it is not an everyday pudding and a little cream every now and again is always good 🙂

Serves 6 people

Ingredients:
½pint/284ml Double cream
75ml/2½oz Caster sugar
1 tsp Vanilla paste
2 Leaves of gelatine (soaked in cold water)
350g/12½oz Plain yoghurt (can be Greek or low-fat)
Zest of 1 large orange
Require:
1 glass bowl

1. Put the gelatine leaves to soak in a bowl of cold water.

2. Put the vanilla paste into a saucepan with the cream, sugar and orange zest – bring gently to the boil.

3. Turn off the heat, squeeze the water from the gelatine leaves and add to the cream mixture, whisk until dissolved.

4. Put the yoghurt into a large bowl and slowly pour the cream mixture on top and whisk together until well combined.

5. Pour into your chosen bowl and allow to chill for 3-4 hours or overnight.

NB This mixture will fill 6 ramekins or small bowls. If they are to be turned out line with cling-film.

Fresh fruit can be served with this and other flavours used such as rose water, (a few drops of pink colouring can be added if required), lemon or whatever your choice is.

Enjoy!

Indian Tiffin Competition

A couple of days ago I entered a competition on a fellow food bloggers site by The Curry Guy, which was being sponsored by Indian Tiffin to win a couple of 3 Tier Tiffins. All I had to do was simply tell them what I would use the tiffins for, if I was to win them, by adding a comment on their sites and by retweeting my idea on Twitter. The most appealing comment would be the winner, which was me 🙂

I’m looking forward to receiving them in the post and using them in future blog posts on here.

Thanks guys for choosing my entry!

Satay Chicken

Having purchased a lot of different Asian sauces and spices at the weekend, I decided it was about time to try something new and found this amazing recipe for Satay Chicken.

Satay or sate, is a dish of marinated, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce. It usually consists of diced or sliced chicken, goat, mutton, beef, pork, fish, other meats, or tofu; the more authentic version uses skewers made from coconut palm fronds.

Satay originated in Java, Indonesia where it has now become a national dish. It is also popular in many other Southeast Asian countries, such as: Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand as well as in the Netherlands, as Indonesia is a former Dutch colony.

‘Satay sauce’, often referred to as peanut sauce, is widely used in Indonesian cuisine, Thai cuisine, Malaysian cuisine, and Chinese cuisine (under different names). It is also used in some European cuisine. Initially the sauce was meant as a sauce for Satay when being grilled, as well as for dipping.

This recipe from ‘Yeo’s’ is easily adaptable to being done on skewers or in the pan, as I tried.

Ingredients:
400g Chicken, Beef or other meat or tofu
3 tbsp Satay Sauce
2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 tsp Pure Seasame Oil
2 tsp Malaysian Curry Powder
3 tbsp White Sugar
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Small Onion and Garlic Clove, chopped

1. Mix the ingredients above in a bowl and marinate the meat or tofu for around 1 hour.

2. If you are cooking in the marinade, then cook it through in the pan, on a medium heat, so that the sauce does not burn, until it is thoroughly cooked.

3. If you are cooking on skewers, grill them until cooked.

Serve with rice and/or stir fried vegetables and warmed Satay sauce for dipping.

Enjoy!

Elderflower Cordial

As a child, elderflower cordial always seemed like a very grown-up drink – though we drank it with soda water or tap water. My family always loved foraging in the hedgerows to make a variety of home-made wines, which until I was much older I was not allowed to drink! It was always great fun to collect the elderflowers and always picked more than was needed just to get the best ones for the cordial. It is really refreshing on a hot sunny day and tastes great!

Ingredients:
20/25 Sprays of elderflower heads – picked on a fine day when the fragrance is intense and not near a road
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon – both unwaxed
Lemon juice
Sugar – unrefined will give a darker cordial.

1. Snip the flower heads from the main stems and place in a large bowl.

2. Pour boiling water over them – just enough to cover and press them well down.

3. Cover and steep until cold or overnight.

4. Strain the liquid through muslin and squeeze all the liquid out.

5. Measure the liquid and put in a pan and for every 500ml (18fl oz) add 350g (12oz) of sugar and up to 50ml (2flozs) lemon juice.

6. Taste to make sure your cordial is neither too sharp nor too sweet by adjusting the lemon juice.

7. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar stirring occasionally and then bring to the boil, just to thicken the syrup – about 2 minutes at the most but every batch seems to be different.

8. Strain again through muslin to remove any scum and pour into clean sterilised bottles.

9. Seal with screw caps, or corks, and keep in the fridge. I like to use the mini wine bottles that are dark green.

10. Serve diluted with chilled fizzy or soda water.

The cordial can be used to flavour home-made ice-cream, mousses etc.

NB this recipe can be doubled, trebled, however much you want to make.

Enjoy!